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A part-time job - what a way to make a living!


Student nurse Claire Aubrey debates the pros and cons of workign part time to fund her studies

As I am in the unique position of being a student married to another student, both on the same NHS bursary and with no family financial support, it has reached the point where I have applied for work as a healthcare assistant at my local hospital.

Tutors continually warn against the dangers of a part-time job, stating that, quite rightly, it is a full-time commitment with full-time obligations. After qualification, you wouldn’t apply for a part-time job on top of your regular job, would you? And yet, for all the arguments against, not needing to work as a student just seems to be a wonderful hypothetical ideal to which no one actually adheres.

I have classmates who work in supermarkets, not hospitals, so part-time jobs aren’t always justified by wanting to gain experience in the field. At one point, when bank work was looking unlikely, I did toy with the idea of getting a different type of job just to earn some extra cash. But in the end it didn’t seem right to take on the extra pressure of a job that was not even related to my career.

Working as a healthcare assistant will be invaluable, as the pressure of being a counted member of staff will allow me to see what I’m made of and how I might deal with real life situations on my own.

This is the one thing nurse training can never prepare you for. There is always that safety net of support around you, cushioning you. Nurses continually tell me that when you qualify, the breaks are off, and you suddenly hit a new and frightening learning curve. Perhaps working in this environment as a bonefide member of staff might soften this blow. However, does this justify the effect it may have on my studies or placement?

Then there is money.

Many students are mature students with bills to pay, perhaps children or a mortgage. It all adds up and, even though we are a lot luckier than other students in that we can have a bursary, money still has to be stretched tight. However, with the financial reforms coming in, who knows what situation students will be in in the future?

I am justifying my part time job (if I get it!) with the fact thatI need the money but also that it’s a worthwhile career-related job. Hopefully it will enhance, rather than affect my studies. However it’s always a good idea to think about ways you can minimise the effect a job will have on your studies.

The great thing about bank work is the flexibility. If you manage yourself well you should be able to make good decisions about when best to work. Also, if you are at liberty to refuse shifts, which a regular weekly job would not allow, you will be relieved from some pressure. Although no one I know has had to give up their job yet, we are constantly warned that if the placement area demands you in at certain times, then you must adhere and may have to hand your notice in. The choice is yours.

Another thing is if I manage my money effectively I should be able keep work to a minimum. I am know some students insist on having part time jobs because they want to keep up with their peers, spending money. I believe that when you sign up to be a student, you must live like a student. It is not forever and so it is worth the sacrifice for that insignificant period of time in your life.

However, it is personal choice and not for me to say what people spend their money on. I guess, if students manage themselves well, then what harm can a job do?


Readers' comments (3)

  • Victoria Lowes

    Hi I am also a student nurse halfway through my second year & I have always worked & will continue to work as a HCSW in my local hospital, this has given me invaluable insight to hospital/ward work but also given me the extra finacial support needed, I am lucky that I am seconded but as I only get my basic salary & my husband has 2 children from a previuos marridge he pays for his ex to live in their old house (pays the mortgage) this amounts to half his wages, we still have all the normal bills to pay, so I have to work & yes it is difficult & hard work, but if you manage your time well then it is achievable & I dont believe it has had a negative effect on my accademic studies.

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  • Hi, I am recently qualified into nursing and have secured a substantive post however, during my studying I had no option but to work. I was a Senior Care Assistant for a private care company. I was a mature student, single mum with a mortgage and bills to pay. It was not easy but I feel that my time management skills were developed which has helped with the transition into FT nursing. Furthermore the experience with patients and essential care has been invaluable. Good Luck with your work and your career!

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  • Thanks for the suppport! I'm keen to get the extra experience and, of course, the money but I'm really aware of the fact that the university warn against it!!! I'm confident I can manage my time effectively so fingers crossed I get something :)

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